In January, Gary Gray was named chief investment officer of Newport Beach, Calif.-based Twenty Four Seven Hotels. Gray, who brought to his new position years of experience in the industry, shared with LODGING how much he enjoys the many aspects of deal making, as well as the opportunity his job affords to interface with a wide variety of people.
Beyond making introductions, how are you approaching your first few months on the job?
I’ve been involved in acquisitions, development, and working to secure management contracts for most of my hospitality career. For me, getting organized involves continuing to focus on those aspects of what I do and using the experience that I have gained over the years to move Twenty Four Seven forward on our platform.
How can management companies make themselves stand out in this crowded marketplace?
Our focus in particular is very geographic. Located as we are in the western United States, we have a lot of knowledge about western markets, and we want to continue to leverage that. Our segments are select-service, extended-stay, and lifestyle, so we are not like many of our competitors, who I think attempt to be all things to all people. The last element of our focus is that we have a holistic approach to doing things. We are able to bring the deep finance and development backgrounds of our group to our clients and owners.
What attributes are you looking for in clients to make sure there will be a good fit?
To have a successful relationship, there needs to be an alignment between what we have to offer and what they are looking for. On both sides, there must be realistic expectations and compatible objectives. It’s important to be honest during group communication between the parties to gain an understanding of the client’s wants and needs and determine how to meet their objectives.
What do you enjoy about the hospitality industry?
I started off with an interest in real estate development, but you can’t be a developer all the time because the markets just won’t allow it. What I especially enjoy is the opportunity to interface with a lot of different people, including those on the ownership side, the support side, and the consultants, from legal to architecture to contractor. I also enjoy the deal-making aspect of what I do—setting my sights on an objective and executing it.